Microsoft Pre-Loading TripAdvisor App into Windows 10

As Windows 10 continues to roll up and get updated and patched, it seems like Microsoft is getting more and more crazy. According to a PR statement released by TripAdvisor and partially collaborated by Microsoft’s own statement, the TripAdivsor Windows app will come pre-loaded (i.e. bundled) with Windows 10 devices. This means users may have no choice whether or not the TripAdvisor app is installed or not, making it bloatware.

Microsoft has long bundled applications with their Windows OS. These, however, have been useful things like Windows Media Player, Calculator and Word Pad. When Windows 10 first launched, Candy Crush Saga came pre-loaded but that was slightly tolerable. Now that another app is set to join that list, it seems like Microsoft may be going to far. After all, Windows has long known to be clean and Microsoft even makes a point about selling Signature Edition PCs without the much-dreaded OEM bloatware.

TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, today announced the launch of a new Windows 10 app across desktop, tablet and mobile. The TripAdvisor app for Windows 10 will be available in 47 markets and will be pre-loaded on millions of Windows 10 compatible devices in 2016.

At this point there is nothing to suggest the TripAdvisor won’t be uninstallable and it should be removable by those who don;t use it. While some may find the pre-loading useful, Microsoft is starting down a worrying trend, hopefully, one that doesn’t continue.

Lenovo Used Hidden Windows Feature to Stop Users From Uninstalling Their Software

Lenovo has been secretly using an integrated Windows feature to automatically install their software suite even after a complete reformat. This was first discovered by Ars Technica forum user “ge814” and corroborated by Hacker News user “chuckup”. Essentially, Lenovo devices exploit a rootkit which prevents users from removing any Lenovo-branded software and overwrites a system file every time the PC boots.

So how does this work? Lenovo utilizes the Windows Platform Binary Table which was introduced in November 2011 to force software installation from the BIOS. ACPI tables are at the forefront of this terrible revelation and automatically configured during a fresh Windows install.  In this particular case, the Lenovo Search Engine downloads a program without your consent, entitled OneKey Optimizer. This piece of software is supposedly bundled to:

“Enhance PC performance by updating firmware, drivers and pre-installed apps as well as “scanning junk files and find factors that influence system performance.”

To make matters worse, the software relays information back to Lenovo for marketing purposes to gauge how customers use different hardware. Staggeringly, none of this is mentioned and the end-user has no option to opt out of this horrific anti-privacy technique. Lenovo defends the OneKey Optimizer and suggests the data collected is not,

“Personally identifiable information.”

However, I doubt any customer will trust them considering the lack of transparency surrounding this matter. Shockingly, if Windows 7, 8 or 10 is installed, the BIOS checks “C:\Windows\system32\autochk.exe” to determine if the file is signed by Microsoft or Lenovo. If the signature is still a Microsoft one, Lenovo overwrites the file without your permission. Thankfully, there is a fix using this link but what percentage of users are either aware of this or comfortable to make a BIOS revision.

The idea that a hardware manufacturer can force their own bloatware at a BIOS level is absurd. Give the consumer choice and let them install the software as an additional extra. Is it so difficult to purchase a laptop with just the vanilla operating system?

Thank you The Next Web for providing us with this information.

Latest Java Update Trolls Mac Users with Annoying Adware

Java is one of the most used platforms on all major operating system nowadays. It is even required by some websites to be able to load and display their applets, giving you a rich browsing experience. However, its latest update seems to want to dictate which search engine we are using when browsing the Internet.

The latest update for Java is said to ‘automatically’ install a web browser add-on for Ask.com, an alternative search engine such as Bing, Google, Duck Duck Go, etc., as well as defaulting your browser’s home page to the Ask.com webpage. Windows users have been plagued by something similar in the past, but now it looks like the adware is targeting Mac users.

Ask.com features can be skipped during the installation, but knowing how companies tend to put such software ticking options enabled and ‘well hidden’, most users don’t even realise they are being installed until they are on the system or notices the computer running slow. Oracle, the distributor of Java, is said to have not responded to requests for comment so far.

Thank you CNN Money for providing us with this information

Lenovo: “We’re Sorry. We Messed Up.”

Lenovo, the PC manufacturer embroiled in controversy over the installation of ‘Superfish’ adware on new PCs, has issued something of an informal apology on its US Twitter page.

This is the first direct apology from the company since news broke yesterday revealing the potentially devastating nature of ‘Superfish’. The software has been installed on many new Lenovo PCs since September, and initially appeared to be simple annoying adware. As bad as it was that a major manufacturer purposely installed adware on new PCs, the software was found to be potentially dangerous too, as it contained a certificate that allowed it to intercept seemingly secure connections to websites.

Lenovo initially said that it was “investigating” the claims, but has now come out with its first apology. An apology that many will be be glad to see.

Source: Lenovo US on Twitter